Nurses graduation ceremony

by Minister Yvette Del Agua

It gives me great pleasure to open this fifth graduation ceremony after the successful conclusion of the Diploma Course in Nursing. My most sincere congratulations to the six Graduates: Theresa Cardoso, Claire Correa, Naomi Gross, Nicola Oliva, Emily Perez and Encarnacion Rodriguez. This is the first cohort graduating under the new partnership between the GHA and Kingston and St George’s University. A warm welcome therefore to Professor Fiona Ross and her team, faculty and staff of the GHA’s School of Health Studies, family members of the diplomats and all other distinguished guests.

Local delivery of this course, which allows students to achieve the internationally recognized qualification of Registered Nurse, was introduced by my Government in the year 2000. Sadly, the previous administration was of the view that no academic qualifications were needed to become a nurse and they literally closed down the nursing school for Staff Nurse training.

Gibraltar was therefore deprived of the possibility of training our nurses to that higher level of qualification which was necessary to improve the standards of care in our health service.

This Government recognises that the quality of care our patients receive will be directly related to the level of competence and skills of the members of staff providing that care. It is for this reason that we have heavily invested in the School of Health Studies and associated training and development, both for students and for the on-going training of qualified staff. I am pleased to say that all 6 graduates have been employed by the GHA and will be working with us in their first Staff Nurse role.
Before entering this course, there is a very rigorous admission criterion which, in itself, is very hard to meet. For those who passed this first hurdle, there followed an intense and stressful three year period, in which you had to combine your theoretical studies with practical on the job, hands on training.

I truly believe that your chosen career is worthy of admiration by all the community. All of us, at some point in our lives, need to place ourselves in your hands. Nursing is a multi-facetted job. Nurses offer the patient knowledge, compassion and courage. The nurse is the patient’s lifeline, providing skilled care that makes the difference between life and death, comfort and pain, hope and despair. But the nurse is also human, and precisely because of that human nature they necessarily feel empathy for the pain and suffering of patients. Yet they have to learn to balance these natural instincts with emotional stability. They have to learn to work without allowing their emotions to get in the way of their professionalism. They have to be mindful of confidentiality requirements, different cultures and traditions and respecting the wishes of the patient.

They have to understand that every step they take in the medical field can have far-reaching consequences. They have to be able to respond quickly to emergencies and other situations that arise. And they are required, irrespective of their physique, to have strong physical endurance, to be able tosustain long periods of standing, lifting considerable amounts of weight, and performing a number of taxing manoeuvres on a daily basis.

So for those of you who have chosen this career of great personal sacrifice but also of great personal fulfilment, and who are graduating today, we bow down to you, we thank you, and we wish you the very best of luck and success for the future. We also thank those committed and dedicated members of staff who have made it possible, through their support, both theoretical and practical, for you to be here today.
* Speech at the Graduation Ceremony for the Award of the Diploma HE (Nursing) last Friday.